Norway has particular advantages in investigating the causes of disease because it is a surveyable and well-organised little country, where each individual has a unique ID-number. Systematic research may bring new knowledge about e.g. the causes of cancer and other serious diseases. This is the background for the foundation of CONOR – the Cohort of Norway.
CONOR is both the name of a collection of health data and blood samples, and of the collaboration between the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the Universities in Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim and Tromsø:
When the health surveys are finished, selected data are copied into the CONOR database. The large number of persons in the database makes the research results more reliable than research based on regional surveys.
The information contained in the CONOR database has been gathered through questionnaires and attendance in a short health examination. Questions are asked about e.g. specific diseases, general questions about health, the use of blood pressure medication, physical activity, education, smoking and drinking habits and the occurrence of coronary heart disease in the family. Furthermore, there are questions about place of birth, housing situation, family, working situation and social security.
When the participants attend the health examinations, blood pressure, height, weight, and waist and hip circumference are measured. A blood sample is analysed for lipids and blood sugar - and another sample are stored at – 80 degrees celsius.
The first CONOR data were taken from the survey in Tromsø in 1994-95. The last data stem from the third health survey in Nord-Trøndelag (HUNT 3) which will be finished in 2008. So far, CONOR contains data from ca 185 000 individuals. The data-collection follow a standard procedure – see more detailed information in Conor - Material and Methods.
The CONOR data makes it possible to discover whether, for instance, there is a connection between cancer and working situation, between cancer and environmental toxins in blood, or between cancer and specific genes.
80 degrees below zero
The blood samples are stored at 80 degrees below zero Centigrade. In the future they may be defrosted, and further analyses be performed. Extracted DNA will be available from most of the participants in a few years.. Researchers must apply to the steering group for access to data and, possibly, blood samples or DNA.
Ethics and anonymising
The data delivered will always be anonymised. All the blood samples are identified by a serial number only. All collection of data is based on consent from the participants. Researchers must apply for a new approval from the Data Inspectorate if information is to be linked with other registers - or when DNA or new analyses on the frozen blood samples are to be utilised.
How can researchers gain access to data?
For access to data and biological material, use the electronic application for access to data. A steering group will process the applications.
Articles from CONOR
Næss Ø, Søgaard AJ, Arnesen E, Beckstrøm C, Bjertness E, Engeland A, Hjort PF, Holmen J, Magnus P, Njølstad I, Tell GS, Vatten L, Vollset SE, Aamodt G. Cohort Profile: Cohort of Norway (CONOR). Int J Epidemiol. 2008;37:481-5
Søgaard AJ, Gustad TK, Meyer HE, Bjertness E Tell GS, Schei B, Emaus N, Engeland A, and the Norwegian Epidemiological Osteoporosis Studies (NOREPOS) Research Group. Urban-rural difference in underarm fractures - Cohort Norway. Osteoporos Int 2007,18:1063-72
Søgaard AJ, Bjelland I, Tell GS, Røysamb: A comparison of the CONOR Mental Health Index to the HSCL-10 and HADS. Measuring mental health status in The Oslo Health Study and the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study. Nor J Epidemiol 2003;13: 279-84